Eau Claire (WQOW) – The UW-Eau Claire women’s hockey team has put together a great start to 2019. They’ve opened the season 6-1-0 overall, and look like the team to beat in the WIAC.
This program though is no stranger to success on the ice, as they’ve made it to the NCAA tournament the past two seasons. But after losing eight seniors from last year’s team, they’ve head to rely on some young players to step up early on.
“We’re a really young team, and that’s been part of the surprise with where we are at right now,” says head coach Erik Strand. “It just kind of bodes well for the quality of the athletes that we have. And it represents how well our upperclassmen have done at basically teaching this is the way you’re supposed to do it. The results are speaking for themselves.”
“I think a lot of people kind of thought we might not be as good this year with all of the underclassmen that we have,” says senior forward Abby Roeser. “But they’ve been buying into our program so fast, and we’ve been having so much success. I think the competition is going to be there, and we’re just going to have to push through it.”
UW-Eau Claire also took over the conference lead on Saturday, after getting a win over fourth ranked UW-River Falls. And with that victory, they have finally accomplished something that is 20 years in the making.
“Currently we’re first place in the WIAC, standing by ourselves. And in 20 years, this is our 20th season, we’ve never done that,” says Strand. “We’ve never been at the top by ourselves. We’ve always been standing there with River Falls or somebody else. This is the first time we’re kind of looking down, and everyone else is looking up at us.
“At the beginning of the season, we talk about what our goals are. Obviously it’s doing well in the WIAC, and trying to win the WIAC,” says junior defender Bree Osborne. “But in the back of everyone’s minds, we’re here to win the National Championship. It’s something that we always have to be thinking about and preparing for everyday.”
The Blugolds home opener is Tuesday night at 7 p.m. against Hamline at Hobbs Ice Arena.